"X-Factor" #261 by Peter David and Neil Edwards is the penultimate issue of David's "X-Factor" run, and yet another one-off issue focussing on a small portion of the cast in the fallout of the "Hell on Earth War" storyline. This time around, it's Monet and Darwin whose stories we see wrapped up -- although that might be a charitable way to explain it, given that it doesn't really conclude anything.
Darwin's story has always been an odd fit for "X-Factor." A story twist saw him transformed from a naÃ¯ve (if competent) superhero into a gun-slinging death god. It was a plot that never quite worked, and has since been responsible for some of the series' more impenetrable moments. It's fair to say his presence in this book isn't one likely to tempt most readers. His attempt to track down Hela and get her to remove his Death God powers seems reasonable on the surface, although there was never any indication that she could do this -- after all, his emulation of her powers was what allowed him to scare her off in the first place.
Still, at least the issue gets back to his unresolved romantic subplot with Monet and gives it some kind of ending, although it does so in a way that leaves more questions than it answers. Monet's personality has been severely affected after the events of "Hell on Earth War" and we leave the character in a strange place where she's not quite herself. Unless David and Marvel are planning an "X-Factor" relaunch to pick up this thread, it doesn't feel like a natural place to end a story -- it's like we're seeing new plot lines started that there isn't any clear intention to finish. Overall, it's just not very satisfying.
Edwards' art is generally good, executing the more dramatic moments in a convincing manner, but his figures are occasionally a little stiff and there looks to be a lot of photo-referencing going on, which makes faces and poses seem awkward at times.
In the end, this feels an unspectacular issue in an unspectacular storyline. The idea of revisiting the cast members in turn to give them a proper send-off before the book's conclusion is good, but unusually for David, he doesn't seem to have made it work. Title aside, it doesn't feel like the series is reaching an ending. Instead of the grand send-off the series deserved, readers get a selection of weak gestures around the idea that life will probably just go on as normal. Apt for the series, perhaps, but not as enjoyable as the alternative.